In order to manage people well, you must communicate well. Even the way you phrase a question or give directions could pose a communications "trap."

Watch out for the following roadblocks, as listed in the "Small Business Success" newsletter published by the Small Business Administration:

* Ordering: Using the phrasing "You must" or "You have to" can make an employee resent a manager's power. The employee often responds with anger, refusal or dissent.
* Warning: Starting a sentence with the words "You'd better" or "If you don't, then " places a threat on the future and makes the employee feel humiliated and embarrassed.
* Moralizing: Telling an employee "You should," or "It's your responsibility," often makes an employee feel guilty and tells an employee that his manager doesn't trust his judgment.
* Advising: If you use the words "What I would do is" when giving assignments implies superiority and often results in the employee feeling inadequate and can encourage dependence.
* Persuading with logic: Using the phrase "Here's why you're wrong" to start a conversation succeeds in labeling the person as "wrong." In this situation employees often become defensive.
* Judging: When you tell an employee "You're acting foolishly" or "You aren't thinking straight" you make the person feel incompetent. In the future, the employee may decide it's easier not to tell you about a problem.

The next time you're talking to an employee, if you notice he is tuning you out, becoming defensive, or hanging his head, stop and think about what you just said. Chances are you may have gotten caught in one of these communication traps.